Category Archives: Gratitude

Mow around the daisies

We have a lawn at our cottage, but it’s not a flawless stretch of green grass. The rural property at this time of year is dotted with daisies, which we resolutely mow around.

The tradition began with my mother-in-law. She wanted to keep the lawn looking nice and well cared for, but she couldn’t bring herself to mow down a beautiful flower in a natural setting. We honour her when we leave those daisies swaying in the summer breezes.

I’m not sure what our neighbours think of the patchy mowing job. Perhaps they mutter: “I wish those people would do something about that lawn.”

My wish would be that they choose instead to enjoy the beautiful flowers and take a moment to feel grateful for the gift from nature.

When life gives you beauty, don’t mow it down.

I hope you dance, at least some of the time

“. . . when you get the choice to sit it out or dance | I hope you dance . . .”

From “I Hope You Dance,” written by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers, performed by Lee Ann Womack

Some neighbourhood kids came up with a fun activity. They posted two scarecrows on their lawn with a sign:

“You must dance within the guards (scarecrows) or you will be TICKLED by the guards. If you can’t think of a dance, do the chicken dance. From someone. Ha ha ha ha ha!”

My son and his girlfriend stopped during their walk and danced.

My husband and I danced.

I have to admit that I didn’t dance every time I passed the sign. I go by it every day on my walk, twice.

But I did dance, at least some of the time.

It felt great.

What to do when you miss travelling

Imagine . . .

You planned for years . . .

You researched destinations and set aside funds . . .

You sold your home and whittled down belongings to the bare essentials . . .

At last, you set out for two years of world travel . . .

And then, a world pandemic hits.

That’s what happened to my friend from The Long Road Home. She and her husband planned to spend two years exploring the world, but COVID-19 made their long road home much shorter.

The mental adjustment to the abrupt change in plans has been tough, but she’s trying to cope with good humour, as you can see from this video in which her treadmill becomes an airport conveyor belt and moving sidewalk.

Click here: What do do when you miss travelling . . .

I invite you to read her other posts too. Kathryn is a journalist, so she knows how to ask good questions and spin a tale out of the answers.

Many suitcases lined up
This is our family collection of suitcases. We are equipped to travel . . . as soon as it is safe to do so.

3 important answers

Book cover for Jon J. Muth's The Three Questions

It’s time once again to remember The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth.

Muth took a short story written by Leo Tolstoy and reworked it with animal characters to appeal to children. In the book, a boy named Nikolai goes on a journey to seek answers to three BIG LIFE questions:

  1. “When is the best time to do things?”
  2. “Who is the most important one?”
  3. “What is the right thing to do?”

His steps lead him to encounters with a heron, a monkey and a dog. Each of these characters answers the questions in way that reflects personal biases. The heron suggests the best time to do things is after everything has been planned in advance. The dog believes the most important one is the one who makes the rules, and the monkey knows the right thing to do is to have fun all the time.

Not satisfied, Nikolai climbs a high mountain to seek the answers to his questions from a wise old turtle.

When he reaches the top of the mountain, he finds the wise, old turtle digging a garden. Wanting his full attention and knowing that a young boy digs much faster than an old turtle, Nikolai takes the shovel and finishes turning over the hard soil.

When he is leaning on his shovel after the last shovel full of dirt, he hears a cry for help coming to him out of the windblown forest. He follows the sound and finds a panda knocked out by a fallen tree. Nikolai rescues her and takes her to the turtle’s house to get warm.

When the panda wakes up, she asks, “Where is my child?” Alarmed, Nikolai runs back to the forest where he finds the baby panda, shivering and alone.

Before Nikolai departs, he and the wise old turtle reflect on the answers the boy has found.

  1. “There is only one important time, and that time is now.”
  2. “The most important one is always the one you are with.”
  3. “The most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side.”

Tolstoy sure was one wise old turtle.

Terrible photographs that are wonderful

So, I’ve had time on my hands, you know? Good time to sort through photos.

I found some oldies-but-goodies from the days of film. Remember when we had to shoot off a roll without knowing how the shots turned out until developed? None of this “Oh, that’s not a good one. Delete.”

Some of these old photos are terrible. And they are so, so wonderful.

Like this one of my mother- and father-in-law dancing at a hall in Toronto. They are the couple in the very bottom right corner of a crooked photo of . . . pillars, more than anything. But I love it. See how happy they are? Don’t you wish you were that happy right now?

Black-and-white photo of dance hall in the 1950s

This is my grandmother, probably around 1983 or so. It’s a terrible picture—crooked and overexposed with light from the window—but I love it. She lived with us for the last year of her life, and she spent a lot of time knitting by the fire. Our dog used to sit like Snoopy on his dog house on the back of the chair beside her. This terrible photo makes my heart as warm as the fire she was sitting beside.

Woman knitting by the fire. Dog on the chair beside her.

We can’t forget the classic “thumb over the lens” pictures. Here’s one of my father-in-law, red polka-dot hat on his head, hammer in hand. What is not to love about this terrible, wonderful photo?

What terrible, wonderful photos do you love?

A spark of light on the path

Wooded path with one tree with white leaves

On Sunday I walked in the woods near my home.

Last autumn’s leaves have not yet composted, so they cover the parts of the path that aren’t muddy. The trees in my Ottawa, Canada climate are budding, but branches are still bare of leaves. Muted colours of grey and brown and dark forest green dominate.

I rounded a corner in the path. Up ahead, white leaves fluttered on a single tree. With branches stretched out in a triangular shape, the leaves resembled the flickering lights of a Christmas tree.

I stopped to appreciate it. I walked closer to examine the leaves. I thought about another of Robert MacFarlane’s words: marcescence. It can refer to trees that hold on to leaves through winter, or people who wither but don’t fall.

Others might have passed by without noticing the simple gift of nature. I’m glad that I walk mindfully, on the lookout for sparks of light on my path.

If we’re watchful, we can perceive those little boosts to the spirits. They help us during times when we’re withering, so we don’t fall.

Close-up of a white leaf